SEN. ANGUS KING ON SYRIA
Sen. Angus King (Independent-Maine) still has not publicly declared his official position on Syria attack. But today on the way home from New Harbor, Mary Beth and I got a good glimpse of his thinking. He hosted an interview with former Maine Republican Sen. William Cohen, who also served as Bill Clinton's Secretary of Defense.
The radio interview was on WGAN's "Inside Maine" show.
During the interview Sen. King said that he'd seen the administration's evidence of Syrian chemical use and that it was "strong but circumstantial".
King agreed with Cohen that the growing "isolationism" inside the Republican party (by the likes of Rand Paul) was problematic.
King said that on his recent trip to Jordan and Turkey, The Arabs (Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Jordan) want us to "quarterback" this thing and that "we should have started that a long time ago".
Cohen and King trashed Vladimir Putin several times with Sen. King calling Putin's recent Op-Ed in the New York Times "A joke". King complained that the Russian leader should not have access to American media like that. You can see Putin's piece here.
King admitted that Al-Qaida forces were mixed in with the so-called Syrian rebels but discounted their overall influence by saying they only made up about 20% of the rebel fighters.
Cohen suggested that Obama should have just attacked Syria and then gone to Congress for discussions after the damage was done. He suggested that the 1998 US four-day Desert Fox attack on Iraq was a model to have followed in this case. Cohen called for the taking out of Syrian military infrastructure, which we know is what Obama wanted to do anyway, as a way to help make it possible for a "rebel" victory in Syria.
King concluded the show by thanking Cohen: "You helped me think it through...I can argue it pretty persuasively either way.....do we have to authorize the strike to make the negotiation possible?"
Cohen agreed that this was the strategy to pursue as long as there was a short leash on the timeline to get rid of chemicals. It appears that the Obama administration will pursue this line - a new Congressional resolution giving Syria and Russia a very limited time to act coupled with permission to bomb if that arbitrary "red line" timeline is not met.
So it seems clear to me that King will pursue this path to allow limited diplomacy and give permission for military strikes.